I wonder what you think of when you think of community. It’s a word that’s used a lot but somehow hard to pin down and define. We know that being a part of a community matters, we have throughout our lives benefitted from the support that community brings.
Throughout the last 15 months of the pandemic how we function as community has changed – the opportunities for meeting up face to face and spending time with each other have disappeared and we have had to create new ways to be community.
It maybe that we have used the phone more, set up Whatsapp groups, got involved in social events over Zoom. Perhaps you have written notes to friends and neighbours to let them know you are thinking of them, dropped off home baking, or knocked on a door and had a distanced doorstep catch up. We have all worked at creating and maintaining community in creative ways.
It seems that even though how we function as community may have changed our desire to be a part of community has still shone through.
In Felixstowe, where we are blessed to live, we have seen wonderful acts of community – I am tempted to list the ways that people have reached out to help and care, but I fear missing some out, so I would ask you to stop for a moment and think about the ways people have reached out to help others and as a consequence, built community. And give thanks for them.
What do all these have in common – why have they helped to develop and build community? I would propose that one of the things they have in common is they seek to look to benefit others – they look to show care and compassion. In a world that can at times be characterised as self-seeking and self-serving these acts of community speak of a different narrative. They speak of our need for one another.
I would also like to suggest that true community is not exclusive. It is open to all. Community is not about building walls around what we cherish to protect and maintain at all costs, but instead it is about building bridges and creating connections across society.
How do we do that in church in Old Felixstowe as we slowly move out of this phase of the pandemic? I wonder what thoughts you have? One of the ways we seek to do that is by creating opportunities for people to connect and meet up in a whole variety of ways – through Monday afternoons in the Link, the Pop Up Shop, coffee outside after the services, through invites to spend time together in gardens.
This is just a start. If you have any reflections on how we can seek to build community I would be delighted to hear from you.